Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup racer Raoul Owens claimed a long-awaited, and richly deserved, first podium of the season at Most in the Czech Republic on Sunday, 31st August, having earlier secured his maiden pole position.
Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC) racer Raoul Owens claimed a long-awaited, and richly deserved, first podium of the season at Most in the Czech Republic on Sunday, 31st August, with a terrific second place finish in round 13 – having earlier secured his maiden pole position
Horrendous weather was a key feature of the penultimate weekend of the season in Eastern Europe but the Mark Burdett Motorsport driver conquered the tricky conditions to break his 2014 duck and claim his first silverware of the campaign.
“It’s definitely good to finally get a podium in this season, and the pole position brought everything up a notch”, said the Pembury racer, “Finally, we managed to get a clean run in qualifying and also a clean race in the second one, the car felt very nice to drive and it was great to show what we know we’re capable of, and have been all season.”
Race two, scheduled for an early start on Sunday morning, had to be postponed in the end due to a major downpour which delayed the schedule. Race organisers therefore took the decision to move the planned third race to the Nurburgring season finale in Germany three weeks from now.
Raoul started on pole position, his first ever in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, thanks to a sensational showing in the second qualifying period on Saturday, 30th August. Lapping with a time of 1m46.470 seconds (averaging 142.418 km/h), he claimed the top spot on the grid by 0.138 seconds.
Due to increasingly heavy rain and copious amounts of spray, the race started behind the Safety Car and when the action properly got underway Raoul made his pole position count by holding the lead, before being edged back by Alex Albon at the end of the opening lap.
With the rooster tails of spray making a re-challenge a tough prospect, the Bright Spark Ventures supported driver instead took the sensible approach in protecting his top two placing and focusing on putting together clean and consistent laps. Soon enough, the Safety Car reappeared after an incident and that’s how the encounter finished.
“Qualifying on pole was a huge uplift for the entire weekend”, explained Raoul, “In recent qualifying sessions we have struggled a bit, so it was really nice to get the first pole and especially in such tricky conditions too. I made a pretty good start to race two, it was a rolling start from behind the Safety Car and I led most of the first lap.
“Unfortunately, I went a bit wide after contact with a freshly painted kerb and that allowed [Alex] Albon to get past. He was really quick so I decided to be sensible about it, keep the second and play it cool. With about 10 minutes remaining there was a big accident, so we had the Safety Car again which bunched everyone up, so there wasn’t too much racing in the end. Second is pretty good.”
For round 12 on Saturday afternoon, Raoul qualified 11th fastest in the rain-hit session and was confident of gains into the upper order in the first of the weekend’s contests. Racing well into the top seven on lap one alone, bitter disappointment followed when an excursion after straying too far onto the kerbs resulted in contact with the barriers.
Finding himself a long way down the order in 24th position, the Briton raced strongly – despite his car suffering the ill-effects of the lap one damage – and managed to very impressively climb back into the top 15.
There are just three weeks to wait until the finale of the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup which will take place at the Nurburgring in Germany over the weekend 20th/21st September.
Provisional 2014 Formula Renault 2.0 NEC Standings (after Rd13 – Rd14 postponed):
11th Raoul Owens, 109pts